Paul Thomas Vega, 35, died early Wednesday morning, March 24, 2021 at his home in Seattle.
He was born in Junction City, Kansas on July 1, 1985 to Philip and Jolene Vega.
Paul was raised in a newspaper family which took the Vegas all over the country, from Kansas to North Carolina and then on to Arizona.
Paul was gifted with a bright mind and attended the University of Arizona in Tucson on a scholastic scholarship where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and creative writing. He graduated magna cum laude in May 2008.
He was then accepted into graduate school at the University of Washington where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in June 2012.
After graduating, he made his home in the Seattle area.
Paul was a fantastic writer and a skilled editor. He was a champion and activist in Seattle’s literary arts community, and served as managing fiction editor for the literary magazine, Pacifica Literary Review. He performed and organized many readings and his works of fiction appear in such notable, national literary journals as Witness, Roanoke Review, The Rumpus, DIAGRAM, The Pinch, CutBank, The Collagist and elsewhere. One of his most remarkable pieces, “Larry F***ing Walters” can be found at https://witness.blackmountaininstitute.org/issues/vol-xxx-1-spring-2017/larry-fucking-walters/.
Paul was also an Alaska salmon fisherman, guitarist, music fan, visitor to numerous national parks, student of Native American histories, inveterate reader, traveler, tutor, mentor and a good friend to so, so many.
He showed generosity and conviviality through grilling and smoking salmon. He would make endless hunts across the city for good taco or homemade pizza ingredients. He even made many of us believers in his kale salads.
At the time of his death, he was working for Highline School District at Glacier Middle School as a paraeducator. His laugh, good nature and respect for the students earned Mr. Vega their love and friendship. Paul also touched many lives in his work at Mary’s Place shelters in Burien and White Center.
Despite having never attended Kansas State University, he became a rabid KSU Wildcats sports fan, coming by it honestly, thanks to his father and his godfather, Ron Maley. Paul could recite game anecdotes, players and scores from a legacy of KSU games — sometimes from decades ago — which delighted and astonished his dad, mom and friends. He evangelized and converted his community to bemused KSU ardency and singlehandedly brought EMAW gospel from Manhattan across the Rockies, up to Puget Sound, and all the way north to the 59th parallel — Go Wildcats!
He was also a devoted UW Husky basketball fan and celebrated the wins of the Seattle Seahawks, the Kansas City Chiefs and KC Royals. All were crowned world champions in his lifetime!
Paul meant so much to all who knew him, from his colleagues and writer comrades to the young students he taught at school. It is difficult to say our goodbyes, for he was taken from us far too early. He will remain forever in our hearts and memories.
Paul was preceded in death by his beloved sister, Julia Vega, who died of cancer in 2009.
He is survived by his parents, Philip and Jolene, of Sierra Vista, Ariz.; aunts and uncles, Gloria and Alton O’Blanc of Jennings, La.; Susan and Jerry Filson of Phoenix, Ariz.; Paula Beavers and Mary Abbott of Edgewood, N.M.; Mary Reed of Junction City, Kan.; Karen and Doug Griffiths of Norton, Kan.; John and Eileen Beavers of Chapman, Kan.; Bob and Diane Beavers of Galena, Kan.; and Pat and Angela Beavers of Junction City, Kan.; as well as many cousins.
He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Manuel and Audrey Vega and maternal grandparents, John and Elsie Beavers.
A visitation will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 30, at the Columbia Funeral Home and Crematory, 4567 Rainier Avenue S., Seattle.
Per Paul’s wishes, he will be cremated and his ashes spread on the desert floor of Monument Valley, one of his favorite places in Arizona.
In memory of Paul, please enjoy the beauty of our national parks and support them through a donation nationalparks.org. Or give to the Kansas State University Foundation in support of students attending KSU at ksufoundation.org and then click on give to students.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Paul Vega, please visit our floral store.